Tupac Called Working on ‘Poetic Justice’ Therapeutic

Tupac’s breakout performances in the film world began with Juice, and that soon led to a role in another cult classic, Poetic Justice.

Directed by John Singleton, the movie starred Janet Jackson with Tupac cast as her love interest. While much ado has been made about him kissing Jackson without an AIDS test, the late rapper’s perspective on his role and the movie was very reflective.

Tupac Shakur
Tupac Shakur at ‘Poetic Justice’ premiere | Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images

‘Poetic Justice’ had a recent anniversary

In July, Poetic Justice celebrated its 27th anniversary. Singleton’s romantic drama followed Jackson’s character as she grieved the loss of her boyfriend to gun violence and Tupac’s Lucky as they bonded during a road trip.

With Joe Torry and Regina King rounding out the story as lovers in a tumultuous relationship, the film made viewers laugh, ponder, and swoon. What some fans may not know is that Singleton initially tried to cast Ice Cube as Lucky, but he turned it down because he didn’t want to do a romantic role.

In an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, he explained that he approached Tupac about doing the movie with Jackson, and he was down. The two music artists did a screen test, and Singleton called it “magic.”

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Tupac called the part ‘therapeutic’

In a flashback interview with E! News from 1993, Tupac discussed what attracted him to the role of Lucky. He loved that his character was ambitious, motivated to take care of his daughter, and willing to work hard for that. He was also reflective about the impact the part had on him personally.

“It was therapeutic for this period in my life. I needed to do a part like this,” said Tupac. “It would let me look inward to see where I was as a person—as a human being. And it left me with some good foundation to move on. I like to think that I do my thing for the young Black man. This is just another way since my rapping is geared mostly toward a certain crowd.”

He added that the movie represented Black men in a positive way while allowing him to express himself.

Tupac also praised Jackson

Though the late “Hail Mary” rapper spoke about Jackson in multiple interviews after the movie’s release, in the E! News interview, he praised her performance. He laughed and said, “I’d do anything with Janet. I’d go to the beach with Janet, I’d go to the trash dump. She was great. She’s a good person.”

As far as the rumors about her wanting an AIDS test from him before filming a love scene, Singleton told the Drink Champs podcast that it was all an inside joke on set.

“It was just me … talking sh*t,” Singleton explained. “Then it was like, Oh we should just use this and put this out. So that’s what we did. It was a publicity thing. It was just us talking sh*t on the set and it was an inside joke.”

Poetic Justice went on to earn more than $27 million at the box office and was one of Tupac’s most memorable acting credits.